Blues Are Brewin
A grand group effort ... superb vocals and intimate guitar playing throughout this album.' CD Review: ESPRESSO JAZZ The Blues Are Brewin' By Keith 'MuzikMan' Hannaleck Recording an entire album of covers seems like it puts listeners on notice that the artist may be on the down side of a once successful career. In retrospect, never does this apply more than on rock or pop albums, but there is always an exception to the rule, such as jazz and blues. If in fact you are a good musician that is surrounded by talent that is supportive and like minded, and you decide to record timeless and treasured classics from the 'Great American Songbook,' then you have a sure fire formula for success The ensemble Espresso Jazz has gathered 12 essential tracks on their latest release The Blues Are Brewin', that catch the sands of time and hold them in suspended animation for the run of this CD. The trick is that you must play these songs with the heart, soul, and infinite knowledge of where and whence the writer of the tune was coming from at the time. When you look at all the dates that these great songs came to life, from 1927 to 1947, it boggles the mind when you reflect upon everything that was happening in the country during that time span. The end of the roaring twenties, the advent of the talkies in the cinema, the depression, World War II, so many significant events that changed the world forever, are found inside the fiber and being of these songs. Great music like this has a way of connecting us to our history and it allows us to revisit other times. For the people that lived during the time all the events unfolded, each song takes on a different meaning. Sandi Russell (vocal/guitars) and Barbara Hilton (acoustic bass), the driving force behind this music, combine their respective instruments expertly along with special guest performers Dave Pinardi (cornet/trumpet) and Richard Mayer (drums). Pinardi uses a vintage Springfield cornet to get that 'Fat Tuesday' Orleans style sound, while Russell plays a 1947 Epiphone Regent acoustic arch-top guitar to create a flavorful and rich ambiance for the rest of the band to step right into without missing a step along the way. This ambitious project blossomed like a beautiful musical flower once the Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday catalogs became the inspiration. The evidence of that inexhaustible musical growth is all over this CD. 'I've Got The World On A String' always puts a smile on my face. It always reminds me of 'Old Blue Eyes' Frank Sinatra, because I always loved his version of the song. This was blues and jazz in the critical formative years and it was an incredible sequence of proceedings that made people realize how closely related the genres were. With a little loving care, the musical partners would merge seamlessly to create some of the most memorable music of our time. The Blues Are Brewin' is a knock on the door of our past and a wonderful reminder of how great all these songs sound to this day. I have a feeling whether it is 2003 or 2057 they will always sound good. Music is immortal ever reminding us of our mortality; it is comforting to know the history of American music will carry on long after we are gone. We need to give a collective thanks to bands like Espresso Jazz for their efforts in bringing us from the past into the future with music that has no timeline. Although I realize that this project was a grand group effort, a tip of the hat goes to Sandi Russell for her superb vocals and intimate guitar playing throughout this album. - Keith 'MuzikMan' Hannaleck, May 17, 2003 --------------- ESPRESSO JAZZ is a rich brew of choice standards from the Great American Songbook. The smoky vocals and swinging guitar of Sandi Russell set the stage for this eclectic combo. A New England native, Sandi has performed in musical venues throughout the East Coast. After a stint with the jazz quintet, Sweet Basil, Russell followed her muse to Kansas City where she pursued a successful solo career. The City of Fountains had a lasting effect on Sandi's musical style and became the keystone to her brand of 'bluesy jazz'. In 1993, Russell returned to New England and teamed with bassist, Barbara Hilton, for a jazz performance at First Night Cape Cod in Orleans, MA. Hilton's deep, pulsating, double bass added the perfect rhythmic punch and the rich essence of ESPRESSO JAZZ began to perk. The duo continues to share their brand of quiet cookin' at many fine New England restaurants. Catch them the first Friday of each month at Chandler's Yankee Candle's North American flagship restaurant in South Deerfield, MA. During the fall of 1999, ESPRESSO JAZZ recorded their debut CD, All Of Me . This live recording from Avocet Studios features Russell, Hilton, and the spirited clarinet of Bob Sparkman. A veteran of the NYC jazz scene, Sparkman's credits include a stint at Eddie Condon's Jazz Club where he performed with Doc Cheatham, John Bunch, and Billy Butterfield. James Lincoln Collier, historian for Ken Burns' PBS series 'JAZZ ' said of ESPRESSO 'This is just the sort of eclectic chamber jazz that we desperately need.' ESPRESSO JAZZ 's millenium offering I'm Just A Lucky So & So is a mellow blend of standards featuring Russell, Hilton, and saxophonist / flutist Kerry Blount. A recording artist with Atlantic Records, Warner Brothers, and London Records; Blount added a dark richness to the mix. Radio host, Ken Irwin of WMUA's Java Jazz described the collaboration - 'The participants are definitely on the same page, as they effortlessly weave their laid-back magic.' In 2001, ESPRESSO JAZZ poured out another steamy release with their third recording- Jazz 'N' Samba . This caffeinated brew of latin and jazz standards features Russell, Hilton, Blount, and drummer Tom Rinaldi. The addition of Rinaldi brought a new depth to the trio.Tom's swing and latin grooves propelled the combo to new heights. Jazz reviewer, Keith Hannaleck described the four piece ensemble as 'world class talent ... a full-bodied brew that offers a dynamic blend of genres.' Sandi Russell and Barbara Hilton recently completed their fourth independent release from Avocet Studios . The 2003 recording titled- The Blues Are Brewin' is a compilation of jazz blues and swing standards. All of the songs chosen for this CD were written during the '20s, '30s & '40s. Many were rediscovered from the archives of Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. On board for this session with Russell and Hilton are Brattleboro, Vermont drummer Richard Mayer and Paradise City Jazz trumpeter Dave Pinardi. Mayer's unique light touch and Pinardi's vintage New Orleans sound help to keep the Espresso machine perkin' on this latest project.